Words By: Colin Reed
For the model year 2021, Fox brings updates to four of its mountain bike rear shocks. Two updates are your usual yearly upgrades that keep everything fresh, and the other two are completely redesigned, new changes. The Float DPX2 and Float DPS receive incremental upgrades meant to keep them at the top of the class while the Float X2 and DHX2 receive upgrades meant to propel them far above and beyond the competition. Read on to see what’s different, what’s new, and what’s better.
Let’s start with the lighter-duty shocks meant for smaller travel bikes. The Float DPS is Fox’s version of a light trail/cross country shock. It’s small, it’s light, and it’s simple. It has a three-position damper lever meant for varying types of terrain: open, medium, and firm. It features a dual-piston valve to help open up the compression and rebound flows, making for a smoother and more effective shock. Additionally, it has an EVOL air sleeve, which really helps the shock move into its travel more easily, making it a much more comfortable shock. It also has new metric and trunnion-style remote offerings, which really helps round out the cross country intentions of this lightweight bruiser of a damper. The Float DPS starts at $319.
Next up is the Float DPX2, which mixes the two worlds of cross country and downhill (isn’t that just called all-mountain?). The DPX2 brings some of the tuneability and sensitivity of the Float X2 and adds it to the general shape and structure of the Float DPS if it had a reservoir. It uses a recirculating oil damper design that Fox claims will offer better control. Also similar to the DPS, it has a three-position lever, but unlike the DPS, and more like the X2, it has 10 clicks of compression in the open position to help you dial it in for your specific trails. Match that with an EVOL sleeve and you have one mean trail shock. Oh, and if your idea of a trail bike is mega-efficiency, there’s even an option available with a remote so you don’t have to reach in between your legs to fiddle with a switch, wasting precious time and energy. You can get on Float DPX2 for a cool $559.
Well, this is it: the all-new Fox X2. While it may look the same from a distance, up close it’s easy to see that this is a new chassis with a few improvements. For starters, the reservoir is shorter, allowing for more rooms on more bikes. No more having to worry about scraping up your frame at full bottom-out. You’ll also notice that there is a dial near the bottom for high-speed rebound which now features Variable Valve Control, or VVC. The outside is new, but so is the inside with a brand new damper, high-flow main piston, and progressive bottom-out bumper. As far as controls go, the number of clicks on high-speed compression and high-speed rebound match the GRIP2 damper found in Fox forks with eight clicks. Also, the firm setting is firmer than ever before, making it easier to crush those inevitable fire roads that take you to the top of your downhill trail. Like always, it’s available in that sweet, sweet Kashima gold, which is slicker than soap in a shower. There are a handful of other improvements, but at the end of the day, this $639 rear shock absolutely maintains its position as one of the best air shocks for your enduro or downhill bike.
Fox made plenty of improvements to the X2, but that doesn’t mean they left the DHX2 alone. This coil shock sees most of the same improvements, such as the shorter reservoir, new damper, bottom-out bumper, and high-speed rebound dial with VVC. Since coil shocks have fundamentally different structures, Fox took the time to improve the rigidity and reduce hysteresis by giving it a steel outer body and finned inner body. Also exclusive to the DHX2 is the new damper shaft finish. Gone is the Kashima gold, but Fox promises more slickness and increased durability. Additionally, there are new detents on the spring collar to help keep the spring from loosening when you’re running only a little bit of preload. This badass coil shock starts at $619.
Fox is always at the top of the game, but the 2021 model year crushes it for their rear shocks. The lighter weight cross country and trail Float DPS and Float DPX2 manage the perfect balance of capability and conservation. They make it easy to keep the weight low while still maintaining absolutely reasonable expectations of performance. And speaking of performance, the Float X2 and DHX2 are monsters when it comes to descending as fast as possible. The new dampers and chassis are almost nearly guaranteed to make you go faster (not really, but at least you should put that to the test.) Fox always impresses, but 2021 is next level.